UMU President: “Liberia Faces Looming Security Threat ”

— As J. J. Roberts Foundation Celebrates 213 Birth Anniversary of nation’s first President; Honors Summa, Magna and Cum Laude graduates 

The President of the United Methodist University (UMU), Rev. Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono, says the activities of some young people in Liberia remain a looming threat facing that needs to be address.

“As I drive to work and see the young people and the activities some of them are engaged in, I am moved to seeking partnership with individuals and organizations such as J. J. Roberts Foundation to address the looming threat facing us as a nation. The threat of breakdown in our national laws and order,” Dr. Gonway-Gono said.

Dr. Gonway-Gono said Liberia does not need a rocket scientist to tell the citizens or Liberians that the demographic surplus is the young people and something must be done to educate them and make them better citizens.  

She said 213 years after the church was given the responsibility of managing the foundation, they are now coming to the realization that this sector of the nation’s population, the youth will overpower the old ones if they fail to implement properly.   Dr. Gonway-Gono added that the older ones are late in educating or empowering the young ones but as a hopeful educator, she thinks much can be done if everyone works together to achieve what this year’s theme suggests.  

“Many of us have gathered here and the situation is growing bigger and sooner or later, we will not be able to handle the youth of this country who will only want to live on social welfare. Why I am not criticizing our young boys for making their living by motorbikes, I am concerned about the ratio of females to males that are learning. For instance, the UMU ratio of females is 64% to male, 36%,” Dr. Gonway-Gono said.

She continued: “As we seek to harness the demographic dividend of our youthful population, let us create a balance so that we do not educate one gender more than the other. I know as to the final decision as to who educated will become individuals exercise but government policy of compulsory education when supported by the foundation will help us in building the quality of human capital to create quality jobs and accelerate inclusive economic growth,” Dr. Gonway-Gono said.

Dr. Gonway-Gono made the remarks on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, during the commemoration of the 213th Birth Anniversary of Joseph Jenkins Roberts, Liberia’s first and Seventh President, held at the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street, Monrovia.

The colorful program, which was organized by J. J. Roberts Educational Foundation under the theme: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividends Through Investing in Youth, the Ultimate Tool for Building Quality Human Capital Needed to Create Jobs and Accelerate Inclusive Economic Growth,” was graced by Liberia’s Foreign Minister D. Maxwell Kemeyah, Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee, President of the University of Liberia Dr. Julius S. Nelson, past and current beneficiaries of the foundation, Methodist family, friends.   

Dr. Gonway-Gono calls on the leadership of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Educational Foundation to support the government’s compulsory educational policy in building the quality of human capital needed to create jobs and accelerate inclusive economic growth for a better Liberia.

According to her, this might be the case with other higher institutions learning in Liberia; therefore, the calls being made by the foundation to the people should not overlook this gender disparity that has now overwhelmed the nation’s educational system. 

“Did we do what Mr. Roberts wanted educationally, or have we failed him as a church and people of this nation? Or better still, are we preparing a list of excuses to give our first President as to why our educational system is still in a deplorable state,” Dr Gonway-Gono wondered.

Meanwhile, Dr. Gonway-Gono has called on the JJ Roberts Educational Foundation to do something meaningful in honor of Liberia’s original First Lady, Mrs. Roberts, particularly on issue of women’s rights. 

Rev. Dr. Samuel J. Quire, Jr., Resident Bishop, Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, said if it had not been for the First United Methodist Church, the JJ Roberts Foundation would not have had Tuesday’s celebration. 

“Since 213 years ago, we have been commemorating the birth anniversary under the banner of the United Methodist Church and it’s an indication that the dream and aspirations of President Roberts, though it has not been really the way he wanted it. Please appreciate the church,” Rev. Dr. Quire said.

Rev. Dr. Qquire calls on the occupants of the late President Roberts properties to meet up with their obligations so that the foundation can have sufficient money to educate the children of Liberia.

“Without your support and contribution, the foundation will not be able to handle the Liberian children’s education and other things. I understand that most of the properties are in Mamba Point,” Rev. Dr. Quire said.

Tuesday’s program was marked by the celebration and honoring of the scholars of the foundation who graduated from various universities with Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude, respectively.

Madam Tanneh G. Brunson, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the J. J. Roberts Educational Foundation, who certificated the honorees, called on beneficiaries to be studious and work hard to maintain the scholarship. 

Dr. Julius S. Nelson, President of the University of Liberia (UL), expressed gratitude to the J. J. Roberts Educational Foundation and the First United Methodist Church for maintaining the legacy of the late President Roberts. 

“Academic excellence, scholarships, quality education, and giving back to society are pillars and legacy we should emulate from the father of the nation, President Roberts. Thank you for giving back to the children and scholars in Liberia,” Dr. Nelson said.